Tech job market is hot, but older workers struggle
Posted on March 7, 2016March 06, 2016
The tech recruiter thought she knew what the Cambridge startup wanted: young software engineers willing to take the risk of working for a company that could just as soon go belly-up as succeed. So that’s who she sent them.
But when an executive at the startup showed her the LinkedIn profile of a recent hire, she was “dumbfounded” by what she saw: a 60-something man.
That’s because many software companies won’t consider veteran candidates, assuming older workers are not up on the latest skills, said Beverly Kahn, president of recruiter New Dimensions in Technology in Swampscott. If she recommended workers in their 50s or 60s, she said, “They would laugh at me, and say ‘Why are you wasting my time?’”
Tech workers are in high demand in Massachusetts and around the country as companies grow rapidly and scramble to fill positions. But older workers say this hot job market is passing them by. Their phones are not ringing off the hook with calls from recruiters, no six-figure salary offer are being made. Some have been unemployed for months, or longer.
Maintaining a career in the rapidly changing tech field can be challenging, industry observers say. A sought-after skill one year can be obsolete the next, requiring workers to stay on top new technologies even if they don’t use them in their jobs.
Veteran workers say they are frequently told in interviews they are not a “good fit” for a company’s culture, which they hear as code for “too old.” One contract software engineer in Boston said that after he took the first 25 years of experience off his resume, he started getting more interest.
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